Regardless of the situation, the organization is a key factor in helping parents and students achieve a successful year of learning at home. Whether the parent is the primary teacher for elementary students or you have older kids who are somewhat independent on their electronic devices, there is a need for a schedule, organization around the home and having the right supplies. The benefit of homeschooling is that this may look a little different in every household because it can be adjusted to meet personal needs and personalities but the basic principles are the same and recommended by families who have been homeschooling for a long time and learned the hard way.
Once you find online homeschool curriculum (or print for the younger students), it is important to create a daily schedule with a definite start and end time to the school day. This serves several purposes: kids learn how to manage their time so they complete routine tasks before starting school and it gives them an end time which can minimize frustration and restlessness when they feel like the school day is going on too long. Parents need to set expectations so kids are set up for success, not a failure in getting the work accomplished in manageable chunks as recommended by the lesson planner or online progress display. Many kids need visualization so have a specific area in the kitchen or schoolroom (discussed next) where the hours are clearly posted especially if they are going to fluctuate to accommodate sports practice and other activities.
Not every family has an extra room in the house that can be transformed into a dedicated school room but, when possible, it is a great idea to have this area. This ensures that all the supplies can be stored in a central location, kids are together in the room to study and the mental aspect associates the room with learning. If this is not possible then check out ideas such as putting a school desk in each child’s room, utilizing the kitchen table or doing school in the living room. Part of the decision should be determined by the collective learning forms and study habits which parents and students need to review together and be flexible enough to adjust when needed. Some students work better on their own, while others prefer the social gathering of students even if it is just their siblings. No matter which atmosphere works best for the group, try to be consistent as often as possible so that relocating can be a special occasion and change things up in an exciting way for the school day.
The type of supplies you will need to homeschool will depend on whether you have solely printed or find online homeschool curriculum or a combination of both. It is a good idea to have a printer and at least one central computer if you have all younger students who are using the print curriculum. As they get older and transition to the online portal then the family will need to invest in electronic devices for each student so they have a dedicated way of completing their work. Every good homeschool environment needs the basic office supplies, a calendar, index cards and a clock in the room where the work is being done. This provides students with scratch paper, writing utensils and a way to work creatively whether they need to fill time or do some extra work on the side.
Keeping organized is important both in the schedule and keeping the area clean and neat so that work does not get lost and teaching good habits. There are plenty of organizers available online or in the store so take time to research which is the right one to keep your supplies neat and easily accessible. It’s also a good idea to get a chore chart or large calendar where events and responsibilities can be written and modified as needed. Older elementary students should have a personal planner so they can mark down special notes that can help them stay organized even with the online progress chart. Remember to be flexible when first starting out and help the younger ones learn how to develop the habits that they need so they will be fully independent when they get into high school.
There is nothing more frustrating and less productive than having no plan at all and while homeschooling thrives on flexibility and customization, there is still a need to have some organization so students can stay on task and be successful in their progression. Take advantage of those that have gone before and see what ideas and methods have worked for them and combine a great homeschool program with the organization for consistency and development of students from 1st-12th grade so they will be ready to take the next steps.